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Feng Shui for Beginners

Updated on October 25, 2013

Start Your Feng Shui Journey!

When my first spark of interest in feng shui hit (pronounced fung-SHWAY), I didn't know where to start learning. As a feng shui beginner, I didn't know what books I should read, what school I should use, or what websites were credible, let along knowing things such as the difference between a bagua map and a luo pan compass.

I'm creating this lens as a way to help the feng shui beginner find their own start on their feng shui journey. Read on for explanations of basic feng shui terms, how-tos, and a few book reviews.

Feng Shui Defined

Literally "wind" and "water;" the ancient art of intentionally placing objects, colors, and other elements in an environment in order to create a positive space by influencing the movement of chi and attracting harmony and prosperity

Feng Shui Bagua by Shandi Greve Penrod
Feng Shui Bagua by Shandi Greve Penrod

The Bagua

What is a Bagua and How Do I Use It?

The bagua (BAH-gwa) is a very basic feng shui tool used as a map to find which parts of a space (a home, office building, kitchen, playroom or yard, for examples) correlate with particular areas of life. Once we know which area of a space corresponds to which life aspiration, we can enhance our environment in such a way that our environment helps us achieve our goals.

WHAT?!! Think of it this way: If you felt stressed, what would you do at home to make yourself feel less stressed? One solution is to use feng shui principles such as color or sound psychology to make a room in your home more relaxing.

Traditionally the bagua is in the form of a a nine-section octagon. Sometimes it looks like a grid. Either way, they include the same sections and are read the same way.

WHAT DO THE SECTIONS OF THE BAGUA MEAN?

Various baguas call the various sections of the bagua various things. These different terms are all ways of titling and explaining the same sections, so no need to worry or feel confused. For example: the Wisdom section may also be called the Knowledge or Education section; while the terms technically mean different things they all refer to the same section. My bagua sections include multiple meanings as a reminder that the meanings behind the names are often broader than it seems. (For example, "Fame" doesn't necessarily mean attracting fame to become famous; it can also means attracting positive recognition and reputation.)

SECTION ASPIRATIONS AND COLORS:

  • Career / Life Path - career, business, life path (BLACK)

  • Wisdom - wisdom, knowledge, education, self-cultivation, personal and professional development (BLUE, black, green)

  • Ancestors / Family - ancestors, deceased and current relatives, family, foundation (GREEN)

  • Wealth / Abundance - money, wealth and abundance in all areas of life, prosperity, abundance-thinking (PURPLE, GOLD, green, red)

  • Fame / Reputation - fame, reputation, positive recognition (RED)

  • Relationships - relationships, love, marriage (PINK, red, white)

  • Children / Creativity - children, child-like thinking, creativity, artistic creativity (WHITE)

  • Helpful People / Travel - friends, mentors, benefactors, other helpful people, guides, safe travel (GRAY, white, black)

  • Health - physical and mental health (YELLOW, earth tones/browns)

Each section has one or more color, the most auspicious listed in all-caps. Each section also has a direction and element, and most have an associated symbol. The directions are on the bagua for use with a compass. The symbols are illustrations of shapes associated with the element.

BASIC ELEMENTS AND SHAPES

  • Fire - triangles, pyramids

  • Metal - circles, spheres

  • Water - wavy lines, curves

  • Wood - rectangles

  • Earth - squares, cubes

Many baguas include special lines called the eight trigrams. Mine excludes these lines but I felt it important to mention them. In English, these lines represent heaven, earth, thunder, wind, water, fire, mountain, lake. When using my bagua, which includes some of them as "elements," think of mountains as earth, wind as wood, and heaven as metal.

SO, HOW DO I READ A BAGUA?

  1. Since any space can be analyzed using a bagua, first decide what space you want to analyze (a single room, a smaller space such as a desk or closet, or an entire floor plan).
  2. Next, determine the main entrance to your space and stand in the entryway facing into the room or space. (In the Black Hat Sect method, the main entranceway of a space is always the mouth of chi.)
  3. Hold the bagua with the Wisdom/Career/Helpful People sections facing you (parallel to the main entryway wall).
  4. Determine which section you are standing in. For example, if you are analyzing a room, is the entryway in which you're standing in the left, center, or right? The left corner/area is the Wisdom area, as shown on the bagua map. The middle area is the Career area. The right corner/area is the Helpful People area.
  5. Determine the location of the other sections of the bagua. If you're having trouble using the octagon bagua draw a tic-tac-toe board on the octagon to make the divisions easier to visualize laid on top of a space.

NOW WHAT? WHAT DOES THIS INFORMATION TELL ME?

After you determine what areas of your space fall in each part of the bagua you can begin making changes in the bagua area that represents the life aspiration in which you want to influence.

Let's say you wanted a promotion at work or increased profit for your business. First, find where the career and wealth areas are in your home or office. Second, look on the bagua to see what colors, shape and element correspond to that aspiration. Purple and gold colors and wind (wood) correspond to the Wealth/Abundance area of the bagua. Black, water, and wavy lines correspond to the Career area. Third, place items or paint colors of that bagua area in that area of your home to enhance that area's aspiration. You might place a crystal bowl of water in your Career area or a feng shui money tree with dangling Chinese coins in your Wealth area. You may also want to paint a lavender accent wall or hang a dark blue curtain in the corresponding sections. You may also consider enhancing the Helpful People section to attract mentors and other helpful people into your life.

That's it! After you've used a bagua once it's super easy to use it again and again. I even dare to call it fun!

**NOTE: There are multiple ways to use feng shui analysis and the bagua map. The Black Hat Sect method is the simplest, relies heavily on intuition, and the bagua is their only tool, so I find the Black Hat method best for learning.**

Must-Read Book for Beginners

The Everything Feng Shui DeCluttering Book: Simplify Your Environment and Your Life (Everything Series)
The Everything Feng Shui DeCluttering Book: Simplify Your Environment and Your Life (Everything Series)

The Everything Feng Shui Decluttering Book is a GREAT book for learning basic fung shui--which starts at decluttering. Katina Jones teaches basic feng shui principles along the way such as how to use the bagua to enhance your home and how to intentionally reflect your life in your home decor. She also teaches how to combat clutter which can stifle your life potential. (Read more about this book.)

 

Recommended Books and Media for Feng Shui Beginners

I've personally read or watched these books and DVDs, and I highly recommend them to the feng shui beginner.

Feng Shui Elements - Elemental Traits and the Creative and Destructive Cycles

Feng Shui Element Cycles
Feng Shui Element Cycles

Feng shui sees all things as originating from one of five element groups: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, or Wood. The idea is to balance all the elements so that not too much or too little of one particular element is present in a space so that the room does not feel stuffy or oppressive.

Each element has its own characteristics and produces its own effects on the other elements.

THE FIVE ELEMENTS

  • FIRE - emotions, strength, assertiveness, dominance, and pure YANG, RED
  • EARTH - harmony, balance, and groundedness, BROWN, YELLOW
  • METAL - mental activity, thought, and creativeness, WHITE, Metallic colors such as GOLD and SILVER
  • WATER - spirituality, reflection, meditation, and YIN energy, BLUE, BLACK
  • WOOD - intuition, luck, confidence, and trust, GREEN

THE CREATIVE CYCLE

Each element in the Creative Cycle creates or adds to the next element in the cycle. (See my pretty, hand-drawn and Illustrator perfected diagram.)

Fire creates Earth by producing dust, Earth creates Metal by forming mineral, Metal creates Water by storing it, Water creates Wood by helping it grow, and Wood creates Fire by helping it burn.

THE DESTRUCTIVE CYCLE

Each element in the Destructive Cycle destroys the next element in the cycle. The reverse of this cycle is also destructive. (Again , see my diagram.)

Fire melts Metal and destroys it (Metal also hurts Fire), Metal cuts Wood (Wood dulls Metal), Wood moves and breaks Earth (Earth buries Wood), Earth absorbs Water (Water drowns land), and Water extinguishes Fire (Fire evaporates Water).

WHAT DOES THIS TELL US?

The Elemental Cycles illustrates how to balance elements within a room by increasing or decreasing other elements. For example, if your space has too much of the element Metal, you can decrease it by adding Fire (which destroys Metal). If you want to enhance the Career area (as determined by using a bagua map) you can either add items that include or represent the Water element--the colors blue or black, a crystal bowl of water, a fountain--or items that represent Metal, the element that creates Water--a metal picture frame, metallic figurines, the color white.

The cycles also tell us how to increase or decrease the yin and yang of a room. For example, if the room is too yang (too high-energy or bright), you can decrease the yang by taking away yang elements or by adding yin elements.

Start simply. If you need, focus on adding and subtracting elements rather than creating and destroying them. Practice this way until you feel comfortable.

Set yourself up with some feng shui starter supplies - Feng Shui Kits

For the most part specific physical items aren't required as part of feng shui, but I think they sure make it more interesting and fun!

(A compass, however, is used by many feng shui practitioners.)

Feng Shui Glossary of Terms - glossary updated regularly

  • ABSENT SPACE see "missing corner"
  • BAGUA A map in the shape of an octagon (or sometimes a nine-box grid) depicting nine life aspirations: Career/Life Path, Wisdom/Knowledge, Ancestors/Family Heritage, Wealth/Abundance, Fame/Reputation, Love/Relationships, Children and Creativity, Helpful People and Travel, and Health. It is used, especially in the Black Hat Sect school, to map the areas of your home or space and direct positive chi.
  • BLACK HAT SECT a school of feng shui that relies heavily upon intuition and uses the bagua as their only tool. Includes Buddhist spirituality and is popular in Western culture for it's ease of learning
  • CHI (also "qi") is energy, the invisible life force that moves in and around everything
  • COMPASS SCHOOL an intellectual (rather than intuitive) school of feng shui that uses the compass to map chi directions
  • CURE a feng shui remedy for solving a problem with negative, stagnant, or rushed chi
  • FENG SHUI literally "wind" and "water;" the ancient art of intentionally placing objects, colors, and other elements in an environment in order to create a positive space by influencing the movement of chi and attracting harmony and prosperity
  • FORM SCHOOL a visual school of feng shui that gives much attention to topography, landforms
  • LAU TSU Chinese philosopher and author of I Ching on which much of feng shui is based
  • LUO PAN a special compass used in Compass School feng shui used to determine the proper and correct direction and flow of energy in a home or space
  • MISSING CORNER homes and rooms ideally have every area of the bagua represented; those not represented are "missing corners" or "absent space"
  • POISON ARROW a sharp corner or straight edge that caused chi to bounce at an angle causing negative energy
  • SPACE CLEARING CEREMONY a special ceremony to help clear the stagnant energy of a space--the energy that get stuck and imprinted in the walls and furniture--and consecrate the space as a personally sacred space filled with positive, life-giving chi (see: How to Conduct a Simple Space Clearing Ceremony)

Reader Thoughts - add your comment or your own feng shui glossary term

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    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Extremely well done and informative - I know very little of feng shui, but I'm very interested in learning!

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Oooh thanks for sharing from a beginner

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I placed a link to this lens as a Featured Lens at my lens about the art of feng shui in order to redirect traffic to this lens for interested visitors who are beginners like me.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I finally understand feng shui with your lens. Thanks.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I finally understand feng shui with your lens. Thanks.

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 6 years ago

      Very informative lens on feng shui.

    • bkarsono profile image

      bkarsono 6 years ago

      My wife is a beautiful Chinese woman. She told me that number 8 is a lucky number because 8 means "Prosperity" in Chinese. I told her that she's my number 8.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A comprehensive and detailed lens on Fengshui - very well done.

    • profile image

      Reflections-on-Decorating 6 years ago

      Very nice lens! I like Oriental art and décor and knew that some of the items I liked had connections to Feng Shui, but I had never taken the time to find out the basic principles before. Thanks for the help!

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      This is a very easy to follow lens. I like the way you constructed it: simple yet comprehensive. Thanks.

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 6 years ago

      I like this. Lots of good detailed information here!

    • A RovingReporter profile image

      A RovingReporter 6 years ago

      Great lens. It has fired my curiosity in feng shui. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Positivevibestechnician 6 years ago

      very fun introduction to this topic makes me want to reorganize my home. keep it up!!

    • Jhangora LM profile image

      Jhangora LM 6 years ago

      My eldest niece knows a bit about Feng Shui. Hope to learn a lot from you on Squidoo. A warm welcome and have a great time here.